COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The most recent census says over 28 million Americans don’t have health insurance. However, the leaders of non-profit organization MercyMed said they are advocating for all people working to provide them with quality healthcare with a faith-based approach.
For uninsured Columbus resident Raymond Thomas, having access to affordable primary and specialty healthcare through the non-profit means everything to him.
“I was out of insurance and I came here when they first started and they took me in and it has been home to me ever since,” said Thomas. “It is a blessing in so many ways.”
When Dr. Grant Scarborough, CEO of MercyMed, started the organization nine years ago, he wanted to bring the same quality healthcare that many people who are insured receive, to the underserved.
“Someone needed to stand in the gap for those individuals who cannot get health insurance,” he said.
The clinic offers both primary and specialty care options, like cardiology, orthopedics, mental health, and dietary care – all of which are provided based on what someone can pay.
“We will do a good faith estimate of their income and charge them a sliding fee rate based on where they fall in the federal poverty guidelines,” said Billy Holbrook, Chief Development Officer of Mercy Med.
With the Georgia ranking the third-highest uninsured state following Oklahoma and Texas, Dr. Scarborough says many patients drive from hours away from more rural locations that do not have any access to healthcare at all.
And because Georgia didn’t expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, MercyMed estimates about 40-percent of their patients turn to them for help.
“Because of that there is a gap to get on Medicaid and getting on the new healthcare act,” said Dr. Scarborough.
MercyMed also provides care for the homeless – free of charge.
With a team of about 40 volunteers, they say bridging the great health divide in the Chattahoochee Valley is not an easy task - but it is a rewarding one.